Sundance Review: Bones Brigade: An Autobiography


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Bones Brigade is the film I wanted Dogtown and Z-Boys to be. I wanted to hear about the origin of the ollie, the rise of Tony Hawk, and the commercialization of skateboarding. Yet, I feared director and pillar in the skateboarding community Stacy Peralta would appear in lethargic form, as he mined similar material again.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Bones Brigade is a masterful documentary that tells the story of a group of misfits who became the stars all future misfits would want to become.

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
Director: Stacy Peralta
Rating: NR
Release Date: TBA

After forming the foundation of skateboarding in the ’70s, Stacy Peralta wanted to create what he always wanted for himself during his prime: A team of like-minded skaters who would elevate each other’s craft and form life-long friendships. Where skateboard manufacturers and investors built teams from established skaters, Peralta created a team out of young unknowns — some of which were as young as ten years old. He taught them everything he knew and set them on a journey across the world. This group eventually became known as the Bones Brigade.

As the ’80s progressed, the definition of skateboarding became broader and the sport became more accessible. No longer were skaters limited to skate parks — parks that were torn down with alarming frequency in the early ’80s — now, skateboarding evolved on the streets of American suburbs. And, most every influential trick came from the Bones Brigade.

Peralta’s film tells the story of the group’s origin to where the members are now, leaving few gaps that need filling. As the sport became more open to new styles, new personalities attached to skateboarding. Every member of the Bones Brigade is a fascinating character; the same can be said of every talking head that helps tell the team’s story.

Tony Hawk is the earnest geek who wants all the cool punks to like him; instead, every new influential trick he creates only make the naysayers angrier, going as far as spitting on his face at events. Rodney Mullen is the introverted genius who single-handedly reinvented the sport by creating the ground ollie. He is one of the most captivating interview subjects I’ve ever seen in a documentary. He speaks pure poetry with a grave intensity that had me hanging onto his every word. Lance Mountain is the group’s clown, who unexpectedly became a celebrity overnight through the invention of skateboarding VHS tapes. The entire cast is fantastic, full of great lines, quirks, and stories.

Beyond these spirited interviews, the Bones Brigade’s story is told through a wealth of archive footage cut together brilliantly with a killer soundtrack that perfectly captures the era and tone of each segment. 120 minutes fly by with ease. There is so much of this story to tell and it’s all told so well. There are some heavy emotional moments that are properly setup and some pretty big laughs delivered.

Bones Brigade is the type of documentary I love watching. It takes you to another place and time, completely immersing you in the joy, drama, and adventure these guys went through. By the end of the film, I feel inspired and full of life in the way only a great documentary can. Bones Brigade was the team Peralta was destined to form, and this is the story he was born to tell.